The material is meant to be a bridge between how brains and computers think.
The research is in early stages, but it invokes ideas like uploading brains to the cloud or hooking people up to a computer to track deep health metrics — concepts that until now existed solely in science fiction.
The new quantum material, described in research published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, is a "nickelate lattice" that the scientists say could directly translate the brain's electrochemical signals into electrical activity that could be interpreted by a computer.
"We can confidently say that this material is a potential pathway to building a computing device that would store and transfer memories," Purdue University engineer Shriram Ramanathan told ScienceBlog.
Right now, the new material can only detect the activity of some neurotransmitters — so we can't yet upload a whole brain or anything like that. But if the tech progresses, the researchers hypothesize that it could be used to detect neurological diseases, or perhaps even store memories.
"Imagine putting an electronic device in the brain, so that when natural brain functions start deteriorating, a person could still retrieve memories from that device," Ramanathan said.
READ MORE: New Quantum Material Could Warn Of Neurological Disease [ScienceBlog]
More on brain-computer interface: This Neural Implant Accesses Your Brain Through the Jugular Vein
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